Over the next 17 days, we will feature Southern Arizona’s top football players in no particular order.

Our list continues today with Catalina Foothills quarterback Rhett Rodriguez, the son of UA football coach Rich Rodriguez.

Rhett Rodriguez

The rundown: Rhett Rodriguez, QB, 6-0, 175, Catalina Foothills, sophomore

Who he is: A wise-beyond-his-years quarterback developing into a deadly accurate passer and commanding leader. For Jeff Scurran, last season’s turnaround at Catalina Foothills played out like any other during his historic 19 years of coaching prep football — except for the play of Rodriguez. Scurran had never trusted a freshman to play the most crucial offensive position, and not only did Rodriguez survive, he started to thrive by season’s end as the Falcons improved from winless to a playoff team. Rodriguez’s 2013 numbers weren’t eye-popping; he compiled 1,451 yards and 12 touchdowns while Foothills kept the ball on the ground nearly 70 percent of the time. Still, the freshman completed 68.8 percent of his throws, with just four interceptions, and proved he could consistently move the sticks. With several offensive weapons gone, Rodriguez transitions to a more focal role in the offense, but with some experience under his belt, he said he’s much more confident in the system.

Proof he’s good: His upbringing. As the son of Rich Rodriguez, in this third season as UA coach, Rhett knew from the first time he saw football he wanted to be a quarterback. He had the opportunity to study elite collegiate quarterbacks from up close, and even developed a relationship with an idol, former West Virginia great Pat White.

“RhettRod” proved his love of football last year when on his first play of his first Foothills’ camp, he got “killed” by a much bigger defender but stood up with a smile on his face because it wasn’t as bad as he thought. Scurran said his young QB has the desire and work ethic of an underdog, yet the mechanics and competitive size of a gifted athlete.

Even while on vacation, Rodriguez continued to improve his game, as he and his father played catch in the driveway of their Georgia vacation home, tossing the ball over trees to practice his deep throws.

He said it: “He earned it; he earned the shot. His knowledge of football is amazing for a kid his age. His poise is already well known all over the town. He just got better and better as the year went on. Three more years from now, people are going to be real sick of hearing that name.” — Scurran